Be Sad About Yet Another Mass Shooting. But STAY MAD and Take Action

May 27, 2022

Please find below a link (to PBS Newshour) that lists what every US senator proposes and “plans to do” to attempt to stop gun violence in America. Although not every senator has a plan — many didn’t even respond — it is a helpful launching pad to learn more about all the various Bills and proposals already out there to address this crisis.

I am 100% with you brother. I too grew up with our dad (retired naval officer, after two tours in Vietnam) taking us out to teach us gun safety and how to shoot every summer. Although it never grabbed me as a hobby, as it did with my brother, I have always appreciated the safety they provide one’s house and family.

With that said, that puts me a bit at odds with the second amendment… Because I see owning a gun as an imperative tool for a man or woman to protect themselves and their loved ones. (I admit i would feel unsafe for my family without a gun in the home.)

And I also appreciate those who want to go to ranges and practice and become an expert at shooting as an occupation or hobby. And even those who enjoy shooting as a sport. It is an actual sport. I get it. I’m not against those things.

(Although I must admit I feel morally inclined to be against humans “hunting” animals for sport. But that’s just me. It doesn’t make me “right”. Just my subjective viewpoint.)

But that’s where it ends with me. I think we’ve gone way too far, overboard. And if we started a massive project to destroy 99% of the guns in the country as other nations have done, then maybe I wouldn’t feel such a strong need to own a gun to feel safe.

It seems to me we have allowed our capitalist and political system to take way too much advantage of “the second amendment” and the more vulnerable people among us. To the point where guns and weapons are a hugely profitable business that nobody wants to give up, and because of it we have a legal system set up now so locked up in centuries of red tape and bureaucracy geared towards “free and easy guns for any and every one” to support that profit machine that it seems almost impossible to the average person to ever solve the crisis it’s created.

So everybody utters “thoughts and prayers” and expresses their sadness and grief, and then we move on. Because most feel completely victimized and immobilized by the apparent impossibility of solving the problem. It’s not that most Americans want free and easy guns floating all over the country. But we’re all aware that the industry is so big that 50-75% of elected civil servants need to accept the money in one form or another offered them from lobbyists representing “guns” and “the sacred second amendment”. Just as they do from every other industry lobbyist.

Hence the vital need for campaign finance reform in the US. That lobbyist system, forced upon us without our consent approval or desire for it, literally breeds the corruption and deceit we witness daily in American politics by (I believe) a few otherwise potentially moral people. But in the US civil servants aren’t elected because they’re good at their job or could be. They’re elected because they raised the most money. They have no choice. They know it. We know it. Because again, we feel trapped by and see no way out of yet another system we had no part in and no choice in its establishment, nor its continuance. We are enslaved by it.

Weekly mass shootings and the proliferation of more guns than American citizens in our country is just one of the countless atrocities we are forced to endure due to a corrupt and broken system deliberately created and perpetuated by greedy soulless monsters who were here long before us and are now gone. And yet there are plenty serving today who still wish to perpetuate this insanity.

I know we are all heartbroken and in shock over yet another mass shorting. But i would urge us all to not even allow ourselves to get any relief out of feeling sad or utter “thoughts and prayers” and instead keep the anger and fire alive inside of us in order to force us to take ACTIONS.

Because the only way we are going to solve THIS is the same way we always have, like ending slavery, or getting women the right to vote, or ending horrendous wars or stopping over zealous police from needlessly murdering black people. We have to refuse now to accept this ever happening again.

And we will do just that as soon as we recognize that there are way more of us than them, as soon as we take to the streets, start boycotting, civil disobedience, advertising campaigns, marches and rallies, international cooperatives that boycott and ban any companies responsible for being a part of the gun trade directly or indirectly, heckling and harassing both online and in person and at rallies every single politician who dares to open their mouths in support of continuing this madness. If we can do it with MeToo, then we can do it with murdering people.

(See how confused and distracted they have us with talk and discussion about “the second amendment” and bills and proposals and legislation…? We’re actually discussing if it’s even possible for our elected leaders to stop “murdering people” from being a daily part of our lives!!! We’ve become indoctrinated to believe that it’s an impossible task, that years need to be invested into “investigating how to prevent it” because we love and need our guns and we “have a right to them”. It’s mass psychosis.)

We need to make the elected and non elected leaders of this country finally come to terms with the fact that as a people we are DONE with this. We are done with them.

It has to be a MISSION. A full on peoples movement that doesn’t stop until we win.

What does winning mean exactly? Well the PBS article we read today does an excellent job of spelling it out. All the action items and bills that need to become laws are right there. No investigation needed.

I hate To say it, but this needs to get to the point where if a politician or even a neighbor or a friend or family member mentions something about “not wanting gun control” or wanting to “maintain their right to buy as many guns as they want to”, THAT needs to be treated as badly and punitively as uttering a racial slur or committing a hate crime or sexual abuse or any of the other things we have deemed as a society are no longer appropriate, desired or permitted in civil society. The time for patience and discussion is over.

We would never allow someone in todays world to say “faggot” or the N word. But we still let people waffle on gun control laws? Background checks? Licensing? All the while knowing that another mass shooting is around the corner because of this stalling tactic? All in the name of needing more time to debate or investigate.. or respect those who “want their rights”? Because it’s “in the constitution”..? That’s the same thing they said about slavery. Or about Native Americans. Or about women. The constitution was filled with downright barbarous monstrous things. And we endured that sh*t for hundreds of years. Those days are over now for the legal gun running disguised as “business” that causes the endless shameful parade of mass shootings we are forced to endure every week in the US.

We need to make examples of every single person who still doesn’t get it. Immediately. In the moment. Just as we did in support of our LGBTQ friends. At some point we decided to stop debating and pandering and enduring, realizing those on the other side were either too old or too dumb or too heartless to get it and they never would. So we took action. We need to do that again now. Be sad, sure. But GET MAD. And stay mad. And let’s end this once and for all.


Studying God or The Divine Force From a Scientific Perspective

April 18, 2022

Hi Stephen.

        Listening to the sermon yesterday, even in the half awake state I was In for most of it, I could not help be reminded (remembering that you had indeed shared this with me 18 years ago when I first stumbled in) that we both not only “heard a voice” but heard the same words. “This is your home. You are home.” I also Remember quite clearly you telling me that plenty of others before and after you over the years had similar experiences…. 

          The implications, if we expand beyond the confines of the everyday and view it from a more empirical study perspective, seem to me to be enormous, deep, profound. I.E. what in the heck is going on there? If one leaves “religion” outside the door a few minutes to explore these supernatural events, looking for a solution, are we talking angels? Spirits? A Divine Force? The building is haunted? Something in the air that alters and confounds the participants’ mind? Some sort of psychoactive chemical…? 

          I probably lost you there. But listening to you so passionately relaying that story yesterday and hearing you speak of the exact same experience I had With the exact same words…. Boy has it had me contemplating…. From a more objective and scientific viewpoint.     

         Of course I’m also fine just chalking it up to “there’s a divine force dwelling inside that space and if you listen carefully and your heart is open, you can hear it.” 

Precisely Because it wasn’t just “the voice” that so captivated me that first day. It actually had more to do with the giant all encompassing feeling of love that swept over my physical body — I now describe it as similar to if i had taken 4-5 hits of Ecstasy (but I had Not) — accompanied by a flurry of voices whispering in both of my ears “this is God’s love. God loves you so much…” for a good 5 minutes. THAT was actually the first experience that i describe as “supernatural”. On a weekday no less. Alone in this giant though eerily quiet building.

         It would be hard to not return to the place for a service after experiencing something like that. Even if just out of scientific curiosity. 

         I am Working on an idea. I find it hard now, after hearing you share yesterday, to keep this private and just between us. We’re not just talking about “good vibes”. Nor are we speaking of any kind of standard religious dogma or indoctrination. It’s something altogether different. 

         And I’ll tell you this: if that can happen to someone like me, so thoroughly committed to intellectual purity, logic and reason and entirely not-religious, then there are many others who deserve the same experience and benefits. 

For the last 18 years I have Kept all of this very private due to how strongly people in arts letters academia and entertainment judge such things. But I’m done doing that. Hearing you relay yesterday the exact same experience that I had changed something in me. At once I suddenly Felt selfish for not speaking about it more often.

        Me doing that, withholding like that… often talking about Enlightenment and Consciousness Expansion in the public but never discussing “religious experiences”…. well it’s pretense. Out of resistance. It’s not AS genuine as one could be. I see that now. 

        It’s out of integrity in a way…. Being gifted with the knowledge of a specific power and withholding it from others out of resistance to being judged. It’s self concern with no concern for the health and well-being of others. 

That’s all I wanted to initially get across to you. 


        So how would i attempt to describe it? That’s the question…. If I were to attempt to communicate it to more logical rational people who normally don’t pay attention to such things….

         Something like “there appears to be another force in the universe in addition to gravity and electromagnetism and the nuclear forces. But this fifth force appears to have both consciousness and awareness, and an ability to communicate with other forms of consciousness, or at the very least with human consciousness. It can speak. And additionally it has the uncanny ability to alter consciousness through apparently subtle vibrational shifts…. 

        “Though we cannot be sure if this force is limited to just the earthly plane or if it does in fact permeate the entire universe like the other forces. 

        “For the sake of simplicity one could label it “the divine force” or “a divine force” since its primary function seems to be spiritual enlightenment of consciousness. Is it capable of other things? We don’t yet know. Can it be harnessed or put to use? Still unknown. 

         “But it is becoming extremely difficult to deny the existence of this force in the face of such blatant real world experiences of it. 

        “We need to be objectively studying this force in more Socratic and scientific methods on a more consistent and constant basis. The same way we studied gravity and the other forces. 

        “There is absolutely no reason for us to remain in the dark about this fifth force, blindly dismiss it as “beyond our grasp of understanding” and thus relegate it to the murky world of the supernatural or religious. That is a mistake in reason we are making. 

        “The sooner we recognize that the divine force can be studied scientifically just as any other force, the sooner we will have a better understanding of it and it’s possible benefits to humankind. 

        “An analogous subject would be the way astrology with all its myths and legends, false assumptions and fairy tales, slowly evolved into the more rational scientific study of astronomy. We find ourselves in a similar situation with this divine force. It is time to set the myths legends and religious ideologies aside for a more nobler pursuit of a scientific understanding of the divine.

        “Obviously the biggest obstacles to this goal have been created by how misused and abused the words “god” and “gods” have been over the last 7,000 years. So step one would be to just stop using those words in the scientific study of the divine force. All they do is confuse and muddy the subject being studied, bringing up peoples’ worst memories and fears about indoctrination and control. 

         “There is also a possibility that this fifth force may also be the grease that got the universe moving to begin with…. The awareness of awareness of all that is created matter and movement, just as awareness still does. Create both movement and matter that is. 

         “Now we’re in the domain of a priori…. But it is still a valid point all these centuries later. Awareness becomes aware of itself, becomes consciousness, and consciousness as it is always want to do begins to expand and create. First matter. Then movement. Shifting back and forth between consciousness and awareness…. It is not entirely out of realm of possibility. And in fact it’s easier to believe than the current scientific theory that “non-conscious matter just exploded out of nothing in a Big Bang and self created”. That seems a highly unlikely theory. We need both awareness and consciousness to create. We know this now.” 

Gotta go. More later.

Is Time Moving Faster Now?

February 7, 2022

Re our earlier convo about things moving faster… (if not “time”, as time is merely a symbolic measurement of movement. Movement of mass(es) and energy/ies), it is only appearing to be moving faster now than before, the primary reasons have become so common that they’re transparent to us, the reasons… “Having to continue to refine what I want to put my attention on” is another one of those symptoms….. just ten to twenty and definitely thirty years ago we didn’t have to do that. No access to “a lot” going on, due to no technology. So we lived very local lives.

It’s not that there is more going on now than back then. There’s not. Back then was also intense snd crazy. WE want to believe “now is more intense”…. But 1963-1972 was INTENSE in ways we couldn’t even imagine…. So was WW II, the Roaring Twenties, The Spanish Flu, WW I, the Dark Ages, the Renaissance, etc. Etc.

It’s just that with the advent of technology that everyone has access to — even a little kid in Central America or africa or Siberia etc has easy access to EVERYTHING going on all over the world all the time.

In the 7,000 years of recorded human history, this is just a brand new 20 year change in how we’re living. For better or worse.

So yeah suddenly you’re actually having to focus on, think about, contemplate “what i put my attention on”…. Totally new phnom for humans…..

AND then having inner debates dialogues and arguments about it and to be primary about “being okay that my attention ended up elsewhere…”. (Of course it did!)

NOW we really do live in a world where two older not-yet-true adages have become true: “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”. Now our attention is LED by whatever is the loudest in the moment. Not by the most important. (In fact usually the least important. Just the LOUDest.)

And 2, “in the future everyone will get to be famous. At least for 15 minutes or so”. Except he was off about the 15 minutes….. now it’s about the amount of time of a TikTok or a Story or a Reel. So about 30 seconds to 2 minutes, someone or something can have its moment of fame or notoriety.

Now five to ten once-very famous snd beloved people can pass away or die in 4 days and we can totally miss it. Let alone have any time to grieve or mourn their loss. Not only was their no “time” to mourn, but our attention never even noticed that they passed! It’s a SURREAL phenomenon…. how that’s the latest symptom of this new trend.

And this debating or sometimes even being mad at one’s self because our attention went somewhere we didn’t want it to — i.e. to the loudest thing in society that hour. Is another such symptom. Everything moving at such a rapid pace. Makes it feel like “time is moving faster”.

BUT I really like what Ted said snd everyone added to…. This idea of stopping it, taking time to meditate, relax, organize snd Declutter. So we CAN ignore the loudest stuff snd focus in on what we actually want to.

Become a better curator for our OWN attention. And fuck what everyone else is saying is “important”.

Im not usually taken by any of that. I’m an avid poster on multiple platforms who doesn’t ever read visit or scroll through the platforms themselves…. Very focused on what I snd PLT and the girls snd fam are doing and attempting to achieve, and not much else, except taking care of friends snd family (this now has become very very important to me. Not sure why. Giving supporting caring reaching out helping others I care about or even who I dont even know….).

But Now that you said it, I’m going to be on the lookout for it. If we get better control over that, more magic can be made, more preferred manifestations, more deliberate delightful surprises. (Mikey’s magic phrase).

Love you guys. SO SO much. Alignment, listening, sharing, tolerance, open mindedness, mutual support… all the things that seem to define what this group is turning into…. Are blessed gifts. We are way freaking blessed.

A Century After Existentialism

September 6, 2021

Definitely a major line in the sand was permanently crossed. Leagues beyond 9/11 or the Financial Crisis or anything prior, excepting maybe the world wars or major historical wars. The last of our innocence was destroyed. Permanent traumatization now. For anyone who was alive during this period.

And frankly, no, I’m not sure what it was exactly. Sure the Covid pandemic and everything that came with it, the permanent pause of our lives, callously watching almost a million people die in a year was traumatic, the glaring reveal of the dramatic economic disparity in the country and around the world, how we now talk constantly about it and see horrific images of it daily but never seem to be able to DO anything about it; but more than anything, the most disturbing four years of nonstop daily insanity competing with inanity that led first to shock then horror then action then no consequences then anger, more action, no consequences, anger turned into grief and apathy, hearts and minds numb, escapism, and right when when many began thinking we were nearing the end and started to retrain our bodies to start exhaling, on January 6th of 2021 we watch in horror once again just like on September 11th of 2001 in another stark reminder of how utterly tenderly and deathly fragile our civil society truly is. Shock. Horror. Fear. Anger. More apathy. Dead inside.

Seems mostly for the bad, but we could point to “some good” that has come out of it I suppose. We’re more awake and aware, striving towards more equality. But at such a great cost. Now humans just walk around in shock, going through the motions they believe they were programmed to.

Someone mentioned to me that they were upset about some argument they had a friend who believed anyone still unvaccinated is suffering from the same idiocy that created the brief but disheartening prominence of Trump in modern society for that hopeless reckless time and he has succumbed to the idea that them all dying off would be the best possible outcome for America and the rest of the world. I asked my friend, “since you agree with this idea at its core, why fight it for ideology? Why not just agree with your friend and be done with it? So our demons and enemies are no longer invisible voices in smoky backrooms or down dark alleys; they’ve found voices and public platforms and acceptance among others. They’ve discovered there’re more of them. Let them die off from Covid man.

And Jeez, the Covid arguments… That’s the least of it. The covid split…. I admit I don’t think about it anymore….but I’ll notice from hearing about social media that some people still do..? Cant say for sure obviously. Because it’s just hearsay, like this text from you…. Is covid related… yet again, as if people have still not found anything else to occupy their attention or time.

But hell, take everything on earth and throw it all in and take a knife and savagely cut it down the middle…. That’s how we’re left. Just beastly split down a false middle. People thinking they need to pick a side. As if we’re at war. It’s crazy.

Fucking deer in headlights now, everyone. War torn and ravaged to near death… numb. Deserted. Godless.

Good stuff to explore for possible ramifications for near to mid term future…. We’re watching several former civil societies around the earth implode and be retaken by fascism. And there’s not a free people or power broker nation around who will dare do anything about it. Everyone’s too scared of losing their footing now. This is how world wars start. Not with a gunshot but rather from pretending nothing is going on. Everyone looking the other way. Hoping they’ll wake up the next day and it will have been a nightmare. But it’s not going away.

At this point humanity needs a global shock to wake it out of this line in the sand partisanship. Or we’ll be an easy target. China / North Korea / Iran, shit, anybody really, could literally steamroll right over the West right now and nobody would even pay attention or care. Because nobody in the West has anything to believe in or fight for. The wind got knocked out of everyone so bad. We’ve got no truths left. Nothing noble or valiant to fight for. Just different sides of silly arguments. At least in fascist countries theres the illusion of nationalist pride.

It’s hard to feel a sense of nationalism when you cannot talk yourself into seeing anything good or noble…. Maybe big picture… freedom and democracy and capitalism…. But those are really big picture…. People don’t seem to care about that stuff now. They’re too focused on the small partisan political things that have eroded our greater nationalist ideals, bashing Biden or pelosi or trump or McConnell. That’s all so small and temporary… unimportant on a global or humanist scale….

Fascist countries recognize that strange anomaly in the West, and are using it to make huge inroads and broad sweeping changes that affect us all. But almost nobody in the West is noticing it. It doesn’t even make the news. Except to watchdog groups. But nobody’s got time for watchdog groups anymore. We throw them annual awards and financial backing hoping they’ll watch the dog for us. But no ones watching. Everyone’s just clamoring for the award and the funding.

I am as fascinated by it as I am disturbed. There’s only so much a small group of individuals can do…. After a while you just hug your spouse tighter and say “fuck it, we may wake up in armageddon tomorrow, but we tried.”

And then it becomes more akin to voyeurism than survival. Or perhaps voyeurism and then survival. I cant be sure anymore I’ve bounced so many time’s between the two.

Good grist for the mill though. For future generations to examine and ponder…

Yep. Both I guess. Look for the little joys AND analyze the data to assess future outlook and try to figure out what happened to prevent it again….

Just seems like the same old Egypt/Persia/Greece/Rome/Great Britain thing…. All over again… A spoiled factor eventually leads to moral and intellectual decay and petty infighting, permitting easy access to enemies within and without.

No big man in the sky to help or advise or ease the pain. Just an endless cycle of birth suffering and brutal deaths.

Being An Artist

May 9, 2021

Starting to catch up on texts now. Feeling better after Wednesday’s peocedure 👍. Last night i read one where someone, younger, had texted me asking me “how do you know if you want to be an artist? How do you know if you’re good?” I must have replied right before falling asleep, because I didn’t remember any of this until I saw it this morning. But I did indeed reply.

“Well to begin with, those are two totally different things. Im not even sure they’re related. And secondly, an artist never questions those things. An artist knows they’re an artist from early on. You know this, right? (Not to say it’s not a valid or interesting question… as a contemplation maybe…) but it’s not something an artist thinks about or asks… because it implies art as some sort of vocation one chooses. Like choosing a college to choose a major to choose a career….

“But art doesn’t work that way. There’s no choosing going on. Artists already know they’re an artist. Because every waking moment of their entire life since they can remember has been spent thinking about, planning and creating art. See? You either know because you KNOW, because you’ve always known, as any artist does, or you don’t know.

“Pretty much the same thing with being “good” as you called it. (Assume and see quotes around the word “good” from now on; because we can’t use that term without having it in quotes. It’s just too subjective and insignificant to the subject to not have in quotes.) Not sure being good is related to art to be honest.

“Craftsman are good. People can have good skillsets. But that doesn’t make them artists. And vice versa. We all know people who are really skilled at something, heck even like playing the piano or something “in the arts” but they’re not artists. And vice versa. Some of the greatest artists of all time were never very skilled at anything. You know? Because art transcends all that.

“That’s an important point. The other, perhaps more important here, is that being good is such a subjective idea, it’s so momentary and fleeting, completely dependent on the viewer the audience the culture and geography and time they’re from, their mood… artists know this… and trust me, artists are never wondering if they’re good. Number one, they’re way beyond that. They KNOW they’re good. Always have. What they’re focused on is getting better and being fucking great. On transcending the art form itself.

“You mentioned earlier that you’re “still working on your technique”. But remember, technique has very little to do with being an artist. It can’t hurt. Unless it does. Then you need to be prepared to scrap it entirely. If it ever threatens your art.”

“If I’m not focusing on technique what am i focusing on?”

“On creating incredible art! Silly. Look, technique is just one of those things along for the ride for a while. Until it’s no longer useful. Then you ditch it to create better art. Because you’re an artist. Not a technician. You wanna become a radiologist? Master a technique. You’ll do a lot of good in the world and you’ll make a lot of money. Both of which are awesome.

“So you didn’t practice a lot when you were a kid?”

“Hell yeah I practiced. Obsessively. From the moment I got my first guitar I did nothing but play guitar. And years before that it was the piano. Every day all day long. But once I got that guitar man all i did was practice guitar. First thing I did when I woke up, before getting dressed for school. First thing I did when I got home from school till dinner. And then all night till I fell asleep. Obsessively.

“And very soon after it turned into being more about songwriting. The guitar itself became secondary to the real art-form, writing songs. Creating. I realized pretty early on that there were a lot of people out there who were very “skilled” at playing the guitar, or any instrument, and they could practice twenty hours a day and may become great at it or not, but they weren’t creating anything new. They weren’t pulling new creations of artistic divinity out of thin air. They were just getting really good on the guitar. Or piano. Or violin. More power to them.

“But I recognized early on that wasn’t art. That was technical skill. I was about ten when that hit me. And if there’s one thing an artist doesn’t have its patience to develop technical skill. Too busy trying to create something out of thin air. That’s what artists do.

“Think of Einstein and his theory of relativity. Pulled that thing out of thin air. Or that John Lennon quote where he said “give me a tuba and I’ll create art with it… because that’s what we do.” See? His playing the guitar was totally secondary to his art form. Really just a tool. But he could have had any tool. It wouldn’t have mattered.

“How do you ever reach the point where you think you’re as good as the artists you really love and admire? Who inspired you?”

“Well again, with that “good” idea again. Look, an artist knows they’re the shit from the day they’re born. It’s a knowing. You’re not comparing yourself to anyone. You KNOW you’re incredible. You know you’re the future. You know you’re creating magic. And it’s got nothing to do with other people. You just know that what you’re doing, who you are, is important. Really important.

“And trust me, you need to KNOW this. Because artists sacrifice their entire lives for their art. They sacrifice fitting in, friendships, being a part of the gang, relationships, feeling a part of society, marriages and kids, feeling “normal”, having money…. on and on. Because you’re so completely obsessed with and committed to creating art, creating the next big thing, besting yourself, transcending art and life itself, you end up sacrificing almost everything else in life because of this obsession and commitment to being a great artist. So you HAVE to KNOW.

“And it’s not arrogance. It’s a confident knowing. People who accuse you of arrogance don’t feel that way about themselves. So they don’t know. To them it may actually seem like arrogance, because they’ve never felt that way about themselves. They don’t wake up living 24 hours a day thinking they’re one of the greatest artists in human history. Great artists do. It’s just part of their nature. No one is going to talk them out of it.

“Do art from that space. From that place of being. Like Mozart. Or Van Gogh. Or Eddie Van Halen. But as YOU. One of the greatest most important artists of all time. You know already if you’re that or not. You always have. Now just go be it and do it.”

Dealing With Back Pain & Spine Issues

April 27, 2021

So if you haven’t noticed, it’s been a while. You know a lot of times if someone is absent for a while it’s simply due to the fact that they’re really busy and having a blast living life. Other times it might be something more challenging. Truth is, we don’t know unless they tell us.
For the last few months Princess little tree and I have been unfortunately going through something more on the challenging side, while strangely also being really busy and (attempting to at least) having a blast enjoying living life.
It honestly didn’t even occur to me until the last day or two to even share this with anyone. Not kidding. Even my closest friends who I communicate with on a daily basis via text will find this news entirely new.
I’ve thought about this strange fact a little today. Part of it is just black and white practical: I’ve been in so much pain for the last few months that I haven’t thought about or done anything except just trying to get thru the next minute. (Pain is an incredible phenomenon. One of the reasons I finally decided to let this loose is because I’ve discovered some fascinating things about consciousness from being in excruciating pain, and over the next few weeks and months will most likely make note of them as they occur to me. So step one would be to let everyone know what’s going on so we have some context.)
I can hear you now… “Ambassador get to the freaking point man, Jesus!” Yeah I know. That’s the thing about not telling anyone something for a long time… You’re way ahead of them in your thoughts about it. Meantime, they don’t even know what you’re talking about.
Long story short, we’re facing a challenge with my spine. Yep. I know. Sounds crazy. Waited too long to tell anyone. It’s been a few months now. We’re already through the chiro, X-rays, cat-scans, orthopedic doctors, MRIs, radiologists, physical therapy, second and third opinions etc.
We’re also already well into the denial shock trauma anger sadness and fear phases as a family. I wish I could tell you “it’s this one thing and this is the game-plan”. Truth is, it’s a multiple of different issues. We’re as shocked as anyone else would be. The doctors have prioritized which are the most pressing in importance and we’ll be dealing with them in that order. If you’re into that kind of thing or interested, we can break down the details in a separate message.
It’s three pages of insanely technical medical-speak that features the word “severe” a lot. We are still in a state of mild shock about it, just typing it here, contemplating it, and we’ve been dealing with this for a few months now. Still doesn’t sound real to me, even though I’m experiencing it on a daily minute to minute basis. Just seems like we’re talking about someone else’s life. (I really believe now that the human mind does tend to warden off certain things when they seem “too big or horrible” to us. It puts up a metaphorical hand and says “Nah, not me.” It’s fascinating.)
Unfortunately pain is a major factor in this particular issue. So it’s hard to stay in denial. When you picture that “pain-chart” at the doctors office, the one with the faces on it from level 0 pain to level 10, I always figured level 10 pain would be akin to getting shot or stabbed or tortured or having a limb cut off… level 10 is the highest number on the chart.
Again, for context, so as a human community we can effectively communicate with one another. Charts are a great thing. So you have to go to the worst possible things you can imagine to get your head around level 10 pain. For about two months now I’ve been in level 7-9 pain. Excruciating is the most appropriate word I have found for it.
Yes, to answer your next logical question, i am on a lot of medications for it. 4-7 different ones, depending on the hour, all day long. My mind is a dark murky slow-churning swamp most of the time. But better than being in excruciating pain.
Re the denial, part of the reason I’m in this situation is because I just “ignored it” for so long. We’ve been told by the doctors that men have this unfortunate supernatural predilection for doing this compared to women, thinking if they ignore it it’ll go away or that they can “tough it out” or “power through it”. Because they’re “a man”. They’re strong. Tough. That’s what I did. I know a lot of guys that tend to do that. With a lot of different things.
I actually worked out more over the last year thinking “I just need to get stronger and I’ll beat this pain whatever it is”. It’s funny looking back now. But in a really sad way, because I ended up doing a lot more damage.
Yes my wife is really really mad. But her fear presently outweighs her anger thank God. Or not. Depends on how you look at it. The hardest part of this I’ll tell you flat out is #1, dealing with the pain. Because it’s a constant. It’s chronic. Your mind plays tricks on you. It fantasizes about “ending things so you can just get out of pain”. You have to be hyper-vigilant to defeat those thoughts. That’s the second hardest thing: trying to keep your sanity, remember who you are and remind yourself that you freaking love being alive.
The third hardest thing, for me, hands down, is watching what it’s doing to my wife and not being able to help her as i normally do with everything. Seeing her sadness, watching her break down and cry out of fear or feeling sorry for us. It’s heart breaking. It crushes my soul. For obvious reasons.
Bottomline, and here’s where it gets juicy from a widened-back philosophical human perspective, we’re at that point in the journey where we’re done examining researching exploring and talking to different experts in their field etc. The bottomline according to the doctors is I “need at least two separate surgeries or there’s a good chance I will be non-ambulatory in less than a year.” Yes we also had to ask what does “non-ambulatory” mean? We had no idea. Who does?
So yeah. We are as can be expected still in complete shock. But we’re also positive and ploughing ahead. It seems like it happened overnight. But they say it’s been progressing for a good ten years and that I “evidently just have a high tolerance for pain”.
This Wednesday I’m going in for spinal injections to reduce the inflammation, which should help reduce the pain and help us get to the next phase where we can schedule the first surgery. They will either do one long surgery to address three different issues or two separate smaller ones.
I know a lot of us in the world of art entertainment and intellect are not religious by nature, which i think is totally logical and understandable; and yet ironically most are “spiritual” in one sense or another. Especially if you’re friends with me or PLT.
As I told a mentor of mine, who happens to be a pastor, a few weeks back, I “would never ask anyone to pray for me for healing or to miraculously take this away, because there’s just way too much suffering in the world. Why on earth would I ever presume to request that I get a miracle when other people are suffering so much worse than I am?” Thats kind of where I land when it comes to this. My wife and my mom are not happy that I feel that way. But man I just don’t feel like I need it compared to other folks who have it much worse.
What I will ask and am asking for is that whatever cool magical beautiful spiritual thing you do in your day to day practice, put in a good word for me that I am able to deal with and integrate the mental and emotional challenges of this kind of thing. I’m having a tough time with anger, becoming easily annoyed and impatient. If you know me personally, you know that’s not like me. I’m a little perplexed by it. If anything, the Ambassador is a happy go lucky guy. But not lately.
I will say though that this experience has radically transformed my relationship with music, playing the guitar — honestly it’s more like bonding and becoming one with the guitar, and with songwriting and composition. I cannot adequately express with words how much joy playing the guitar and exploring different guitars has provided me with in the last few months since we got this news. It’s been a life saver.
More than anything, I’d like to ask you to send positive vibes to and for my wife. You know princess little tree is the sweetest person in the world. She’s like an angel on earth in human form. This has been hard for her. More than hard. And she’s had to pick up a lot of slack for both of us. Besides dealing with all the emotional challenges of this kind of event, which she doesn’t have much time to do because of the practical logistics of doing everything we need to to get through the process to fix this.
I honestly cannot imagine it — I freak OUT if she even gets a migraine! I go into a freaking panic inside. But she’s been dealing with this now for a few months. And so far she’s really hanging in there. Trying to integrate it emotionally in the mornings with friends and family before I wake up so she has a brave face during the day.
But it’s going to get more real starting this week. So I’d like to ask us all to lift her up and send her positive vibes and strength and courage, remembering the Divine’s infinite love and power. Keep her in your thoughts and prayers if that’s your thing.
As for me, to be perfectly honest I am not afraid. I am not worried. I’m strangely calm and confident about the path forward. The pain is unbearable and I’d like it to stop. We’re working on that. We have a good team. And a good plan. I get that life is an awesome adventure of ups AND downs. And that’s what makes it super fun and exciting. Way better than not being alive. Obviously I’m very hopeful and determined for the best possible outcome. We will keep you posted.

Damn I Love the Internet

March 21, 2021
1968 Hofner

There are a myriad of reasons why someone might exclaim “damn I love the internet!” Even in this age where there’s so much internet bashing going on.
I have this ‘68 Hofner acoustic guitar that I bought used by auction years ago. It’s in rough shape, but it sounds amazing! The guys in the band already know this. But out of the 20-25 acoustics I have, even over Gibson, Taylor, Martin, Fender, Epiphone, this just might be favorite. It has this rich full body punchy sound that just gets you way down deep.
I wanted to find out what model it is, look for others in similar years, and see if there were other models that might be even better to try. NOBODY talks about Hofner acoustic guitars. It’s just not a thing. The violin bass, sure. Mccartney made sure of that. But guitar players don’t rave or even talk about Hofner.
Last night I found this guy in the UK who created a whole website dedicated to vintage Hofner acoustic guitars. He’s been maintaining it since 1987! He’s more obsessed than I am.

So I emailed him, sent him a donation to maintain his site. And he just replied back saying if i sent him some pix of my German handcrafted beauty he’d check it out and fill me in on the model and history of it.
Damn I love the internet.

Taking Up The Cross

February 28, 2021

Lent has officially begun for those who celebrate it. For non-Christians, look at it as a very long red carpet that takes 40 days to walk down and eventually leads to and ends at the death and alleged Reserection of the Jewish rebel Jesus of Nazareth, what in the commercial world is known as Easter.
Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, events most people have heard of, are all related to this holiday of the Christian faith tradition.
[For historical clarification, “Easter” is a much older pagan holiday that predates Christianity by hundreds of years that was annexed by the Romans. For hundreds of years prior to Jesus it celebrated the spring equinox and the rebirth of the goddess from winter’s crone to spring’s beautiful young goddess of the harvest. Persians still celebrate the original intention of the holiday in Norooz. (The Romans also pulled the same switcharoo when they turned the centuries old holiday of Yule, which celebrated the winter equinox and the goddess Mithras, into “Christmas”, not having any idea of the actual birth day of Jesus, a fact we are still in the dark about. But don’t shoot the messenger. These are just important points of fact for context.)]
Over the past week we have once again started to personally participate in different small groups and forums with spiritually like minded folk to more deeply explore Lent and the Lenten practice.
[Note: Despite my more extreme cynical skeptical and agnostic views of the christian faith tradition from knowing far too well the questionable origins of it, I still find the opportunity to gain deeply needed spiritual fulfillment and social engagement from the practice helpful. And helpful is always good. So rather than let the gross imperial nature of Christianity as a whole (and lest we forget, Christianity, especially as it relates to the wicked and nefarious Holy Roman Empire, Vatican and Catholic Church, has been one of the most destructive and harmful institutions in human history, full stop) darken my heart and bar me from something that might do me some good, I embrace the more noble paths it has to offer, just as I do with Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism, Hinduism, Krishnaism, and even Islam. All heinously brutal and deadly power structures, but each offering their own moments of sublimely poetic spiritual nuggets.
If you got through that last paragraph head intact, gold star for you!
This last week the discussion subject has been about “what does it mean to take up the cross” as Jesus advised? We’ve heard a variety of answers from people.
One point of note we encountered was interesting: there’s a real distinction between the common phrases “to take up the cross” and “your cross to bear”, even though many people use the phrases interchangeably. “To take up the cross” implies more of a mission. Something you proactively do. “Your cross to bear” has a more passive implication, implying a burden you must carry whether you want to or not. Very different indeed.
The one thing I heard from others more than anything that stuck my attention was how people in today’s modern world have shifted in their own minds the meaning of Jesus’s admonition to “take up the cross” into a more new age call to “get more active and ambitious in achieving their own goals.” As if he was some metaphysical self-help guru or success coach helping people become wealthier or more successful.
That’s a rather peculiar take on a message that came from a man who encouraged his followers to abandon their jobs, money, homes and worldly possessions to more wholeheartedly go out and serve people. I copied and pasted some comments I made this week to various friends in some group chats below…
I believe it’s obvious what taking up the cross means in this context of following Jesus and what he advised. “Loving God with all your heart and serving your neighbor as yourself”. I.E. helping others. Serving those in need. Helping your community.
It’s not really about the self at all, and certainly not about ones personal ambitions. Volunteer. Serve others. Help wherever there is a need. Forget the self and reach out to and for other peoples. Give everything you have and more.
Jesus wasn’t talking about our personal goals or primaries. That’s just the new age materialistic view modern people turn it into because they’re so afraid of giving up their materialistic way of life so they can’t even consider what it really means. We’ve turned Jesus into a new age motivational speaker ala Joel Osteen because that better suits our mentality and desires in this day and age. But it couldn’t be more removed from his actual teachings.
What did Jesus ask Simon / peter to do? Get primary about catching more fish?!?! Hell no. He said quit fishing altogether and come follow me and help me HELP PEOPLE.
What about Saul/PAUL? Did he ask Saul to get more ambitious about working for the Romans and Jews to go kill even more Christians? Heck no. He blinded him for three days to get his attention and told him to join him in helping people get closer to God, become better people, and spread the good word of love and forgiveness and charity and giving.
Did he ask Matthew to get more primary about collecting even more taxes and make even more money for himself to rise up higher in his career? No. He said quit collecting taxes, forget your career and come follow me and let’s help some people.
Personal success and collecting money ONLY helps in so far as it permits us more time to be of service to others and make the world a better place. Collecting houses and material possessions is the exact opposite of taking up the cross. It’s a burden that distracts us from taking up the cross and helping make a positive difference in the world around us.
Think of the TV show Billions. These are the exact people Jesus would be going after if he were alive today.
Someone replied to me: “well Jesus taking the up the cross was HIS mission. My taking up the cross may be different. He didn’t say “go feed people.”” But of course, yes he did. That’s exactly what he said. And he certainly didn’t say “hey go create your own mission and if that’s becoming super successful and rich so you can live in a giant house ten times bigger than your own needs, so be it, that’s your cross.”
The cross just represents his moving forward with his ministry despite the fact that he knew he was going to be killed (on the cross). And he encouraged and sometimes pleaded for others to join him. So we have to ask “what was his ministry?”
His ministry was helping people.
He could have quit. Started playing by the rules. To avoid getting killed. But he didn’t. He went forward toward the cross. Kept on with his ministry.
Of course it wasn’t just about feeding people… it was also…

  • speaking truth to power against lies, money grubbing, being greedy and materialistic instead of sharing ones money with others who are needy.
  • encouraging people to be honest, have integrity, be more virtuous, less villainous.
  • encouraging people to not be greedy with their time but using it to volunteer and help others…. and help the community around them.
  • helping people not be so self focused on personal success and fame and approval but to humble themselves to get closer to god and serve those who are more needy.
    That was his whole trip.
    It’s hard for us now because we live in a deliberately materialistically society based on consumer capitalism to keep everyone buying so the society runs smoothly. So we’re blinded by that. So that other way of living is hard for us to contemplate let alone even consider imagining for ourselves. I get it. I’m the worst.
    But I do remain hopeful that every step I take in the direction of helping others and selfless service brings me closer to at least knowing that cross is there to take up. I even look at the little things… marching for Black Lives Matter, or LGBTQ rights, donations to Feeding America, taking those few extra minutes each day to sing happy birthday to people, or calling older folks who are in lockdown and might be lonely, remembering to text friends to tell them they’re awesome and I appreciate them.
    The thing is that we live in a very public and very selfish and competitive world now. Its always been this way. But it’s gotten much much worse. Getting a lot of money and fame has become the predominate way to stand out and feel good about yourself or others. Gone are the days when good deeds make someone cool or famous or popular.
    I’m Gen X, and if there’s one primary aspect of Gen X it’s that we shunned attention. Being UNcool and UNpopular were our calling cards. We tried hard to NOT try hard. We absolutely disdained the money grubbing extreme bougiouse ambitious trying and showing off of the boomers. Hence the nickname Slackers.
    It’s not that we didn’t care. We cared. A lot. We just didn’t care about those kinds of things. We did hallucinogens to explore consciousness. Our focus was the intellect the spirit the community the climate justice and quality rights for all. The world. Our souls.
    When we think of the anti-heroes of generation x we think of Matt Dillon in The Outsiders or Judd Nelson in Breakfast Club or Tyler Durden in Fight Club. Three of my personal favs. Deliberarely shunning the materialistic societal norms of working hard to buy more stuff and climb the corporate ladder to look better in the eyes of others.
    Get that new car. Lease it if you can’t afford it. Buy that new house. Brag about your new job so you can tell your friends about it over dinner at that new place in town. Made me sick back then as a kid. Still makes me sick.
    There’s also Ferris Beuller… skip school which is what society says you’re supposed to be doing and instead go take advantage of being alive and enjoy it. The boomers were materialistic posers. Authenticity and sucking the nectar out of each minute was our thing.
    NOW it’s all changed of course. The new gens are not just focused but obsessed with proving to other people they exist and they’re relevant by showing it off publicly and from getting the approval of others. They don’t go look at mountains. They Instagram mountains. If they happen to see a mountain while they’re at it, so be it. But that’s not the goal. It’s a sad state of affairs. And we’re all to blame for letting things get this bad for them.
    The end result being that they’re so obsessed with keeping up appearances to prove their self worth through the eyes of others that service to others has all but left their cultural consciousness. If they march for some cause it’s to get a good shot for Snapchat or Insta, more like attending a rave.
    Social media celebrities and influencers have become their heroes. You ask “so what’s their cause? What’s their big mission?” And they respond “what? Being famous silly!” It’s fucked up.
    I’ll share a little anecdote with you here because it’s appropriate for where we’re at in this post. Our oldest daughter was in lockdown with us for almost a year. And one day my music career came up.
    Fast forwarding twenty minutes into the conversation she asks me “hold on now! You and your band deliberately tried to NOT have hit songs?!?! What the f*^k?!?” “Yeah dude. If I heard us skating too close to something that sounded commercial I knew we were on the wrong track and I’d change it up to make it more experimental or artistic. Our goal wasn’t to have hits. It was to be cool, smart, artistic. More like Picasso or Einstein or David Lynch.” “But You’re IN the music business! Having hits is your goal!” “Nah dude. Being known as brilliant artists is our goal little dude. Ask mom.”
    Princess Little Tree chimed in: “Honey I couldn’t believe it either. When I first met Ed and he told me about Rise and Shine and how he was singing in ten different languages and the songs were all five to ten minutes long… I asked him “how is thst ever going to be played on the radio?” And he replied “well hopefully it never will be.” I couldn’t believe it! I thought he was joking! But he wasn’t. His goals were totally different than what we normally think for musicians. He thought he was Michaelangelo! I had to BEG him to make ONE album just for me that was commercial. Just as a favor to me. Which he did thank God. Ballad On Third Avenue. But i had to produce it for them!!!! So we could eat and have a roof over our heads! Silly boy!”
    So yeah that’s a bit off topic. But it exemplifies the differences in generations. Gen X takes pride in shunning the cultural norms of fitting in, sucking the corporate teet to show off for the approval of others. Celebrity means nothing if you didn’t get there authentically and organically and on your own terms.
    And to us there has to be a big dose of being of service. Helping others. To serving the world. We take up the cross by not giving in to societal pressures that tell you that you have to show off or fit in or be somebody in the eyes of others regardless of what you’re actually doing to help people or not.
    We are committed and determined to work tirelessly till everyone enjoys equal rights, till homelessness and hunger are eradicated, till everyone is accepted and embraced for who they are, till political lobbying is outlawed, till politicians start actually working for us as they’re supposed to, till the imperialistic power structures that have dominated human society are brought to their knees. So corporations don’t pay 40% fewer taxes than hard working struggling people, and on and on and on. We’ve accomplished a lot. But we’re just getting started. Join us.

There Will Be No Impeachment, But There Should Be

February 12, 2021

Well there it is. Trump defense attorneys were well prepared and just made incredibly valid points supporting their claim that he should not be impeached by the senate for the capital siege. They are in the process of presenting countless examples of extremist calls for violence and uprisings by people on the left as a means to justify and defend Trump’s words and actions.
The unfortunate result will be a stalemate that leaves America ever more prone and vulnerable to further violence as the people on both sides fight amongst themselves for some kind of middle ground.
As someone who’s been in the center of large marches and protests all over the country for the last 25 years I will freely admit that yes we were always aware that we were primarily comprised of people either on the left or staunchly independent — it never occurred to us that Republicans would take to the streets. Activism and grass roots movements seemed to always belong to the radical left. It was a given. Taken for granted.
And though we never participated in any kind of violence or vandalism we were always keenly aware those activities followed grassroots movements around. We witnessed it constantly and always tried to dissuade others from doing it.
Yes the BLM movement was often punctuated by incessant violence throughout the summer. I personally expressed concern repeatedly on social media about us having to fall asleep to the sound of bombs and gunshots all night for months in NYC, and witnessed three men gun down another in the street right in front of me. A surreal and traumatizing event. Posted it to Instagram. Didn’t feel like it helped our mission.
After two and half decades active in mass change movements I have almost come to expect and accept that a little bit of violence and vandalism is a natural part of the path towards massive sociopolitical change in our culture.
Do I feel differently now that those on the right have suddenly woken up to discover the value of activism? Let me answer it this way: mid-summer I was so frustrated by and pissed off at elected officials on both sides of the aisle for not doing anything to pass stimulus quicker for the millions of Americans who were hurting, while corporations were receiving billions of aid, that I seriousky considered promoting a campaign of mass vandalism of banks, financial institutions and governmental buildings. I would be the first to do it to inspire others.
But before I acted I reached out to several trusted friends to ask them what they thought of my plan. They all encouraged me to NOT do it. They said I could achieve the same results and help express peoples’ discontent through cooler less violent means. More aligned with The Ambassador. So I didnt proceed. Looking back I am grateful for those friends and their sage advice.
And that’s where I come down in regards to the Right’s sudden discovery of street activism. Activists are notoriously smart. Intimidatingly so usually. I can tell you that personally from experience. They’re well read on the issues and well informed.
There were and are two distinct groups active for Black Lives Matter: one was the initial emotional RE-action of the mob, highlighted by quick impulses to commit violence vandalism and mayhem, a phenomenon we often see whenever humanity encounters events that are shocking and atrocious. The other was the more subdued and rational but resolute actions in the streets by the majority who chose to peacefully march chant and carry signs for months everyday to get the basic message across: Black Lives Matter.
The problem with the Trump supporters’ sudden foray into activism were multifold: what they were protesting was a lie. There was no stolen election. There was no underlying issue they were fighting for. They had been deceived and they hadn’t taken the time to research the issue itself. Secondly, their initial response was a primitive irrational and emotional rush to violence which ultimately killed 6 people.
Behind every street protest you see there is always a compound of insanely intelligent folks in rooms working the research, the phones, communicating with the media, honing and steering the message and the ship at large. They inform how those in the street act and what they do. They give intelligent data and direction to the people in the streets so it’s not just unplugged emotion and pandemonium.
The mob that stormed the capital on January 6th had no inteligencia posted in a room guiding them or giving them direction. If they had they wouldn’t have stormed the capital. They would have understood like the majority of Americans that there was no underlying issue to protest. They also would have chosen a safer, less violent, more intelligent and compassionate and more creative manner to express their dissent (had their dissent been in any way justifiable, which it wasn’t.)
Consider for a moment the massive Women’s Marches and Anti-Trump Marches we witnessed the week after the Trump inauguration in 2017. Both Princess little tree and I were in those marches. We were millions strong. All over the United States. No one got hurt. The issue was valid. The message was clear — we support women, immigrants, Muslims, Latinos and the LGBTQ community and we object to Trump’s policies that deny their rights. The spectacle was creative. The events were peaceful.
The marches and protests and activism exhibited by pro-Trump supporters over the last four year’s have been consistently plagued by violence ugliness and an underlying xenophobic racist and homophobic tone. It’s undeniable. It doesn’t imply that all republicans share those views. But the onus is on every single Republican to shake loose the stain that Trump has left on the party by his refusal to reject or denounce the actions taken in his name by these groups of misguided thugs.
The GOP will never again garner the respect of Americans or the world if it does not take this action decisively. And until such time those of us who’ve been in the trenches of grassroots activism for years will always look upon any attempt at activism by those on the right with fear and trepidation.
The goal of activism is a noble goal. The mission is founded in purity of heart, compassion, peace, intelligence; it is well thought out and it never resorts to violence. Most importantly it has an underlying issue it supports that it believes is vital. It is not blind. It is not a mob. It is never waged behind the false and incoherent ramblings of a madman or a sore loser spewing lies.
Regarding the senate impeachment hearing of Donald Trump, at this point it doesn’t matter what we believe one way or the other. Their defense team’s arguments have been enough for senate members on the right to feel safe and justified to vote no to impeaching.
Truth is we’ve been heading down a road of more and more violence in the streets from both sides. Both sides feeling justified. And both sides are justified in feeling “horrified” by what they’ve seen by those who they perceive as being “the enemy”.
The problem America may face after these proceedings is a shared feeling of righteous justification to incite further violence and insurrection in the streets and against our elected leaders and governmental seats nationwide. This is the big risk Republican lawmakers face. Through their fear of retribution by Trump supporters in their own party and through their cowardly desire to maintain their seats of power, their no votes may be viewed as condoning the barbarous acts of January 6th, inflicting an increase of violence on American life in the months and years to come.
If you ask me I believe we just barely escaped the worst outcomes after the disturbing attempts made by radicals on the right to threaten the lives and homes of elected officials as they tried to reverse the election results. In my humble opinion things never would have veered so far astray had those on the right not been lied to repeatedly about a “stolen election” by the president, or if he hadn’t repeatedly encouraged such behavior or even if he would have just chosen at some point to talk his supporters down for the sake and safety of the country.
I am reminded of that rally in ‘08 when a McCain supporter yelled out “Obama is an Arab islamic terrorist!” and an obviously disturbed McCain nobly spoke up and reprimanded the man saying “Hey hey we don’t say those kinds of things. That’s not true. It’s not true.” I was so proud to be American in that moment.
Unfortunately for all of us Trump was never able to embody the integrity decency or nobility of John McCain. And because of that unfortunate fact his supporters and the GOP itself has lost all memory of those once cherished values. Fortunately, Joe Biden seems to be cut from the same cloth as McCain and is now displaying for us all how valuable those values are. He embodies them.
The problem is that Trump never stepped up to the role of president to decry or denounce the barbarous acts taken in his name on January 6th. Instead he looked upon them with glee and enthusiasm. He praised those who perpetrated them, going so far as saying he loved them. He never spoke up to defend the constitution or the democratic ideals that govern us by simply announcing that the results of the election appear in all manner to be legitimate and that he humbly accepts the loss and encourages his supporters to do the same. He never acknowledged that Joe Biden is now the president.
Because of these unfortunate facts we may be facing an unparalleled escalation of violence in the streets and against public officials by rightwing extremists who still believe the big lie that Trump has never taken back. I must admit I am fearful for our president, for our Speaker, for the former Vice President and for anyone on either side who doesn’t happen to side with Trump or his murderous band of extremist thugs.
It is also for the above reasons that I believe that a good case can be made for the senate to impeach Trump and be perfectly justified. Forget whether he instigated or incited the siege on our nations capital. The real crux of his unforgivable and treasonous transgressions is that he stood by and did nothing while his supporters perpetrated the crimes.

And he never once had the integrity honor or even patriotism of a valid president to denounce their heinous actions on that day. We would expect no less from a president. And yet he couldn’t find within him an ounce of that courage or moral fiber to do what we all not only expect but need as a nation. That’s reason enough to impeach and convict the man. As sad as it may be for all of us, it is vital and necessary.

Death Man, Death. Death Is In, Death Is In

February 6, 2021

2 weeks ago we were down in Florida due to our dad passing away from the virus. Got home Monday and the next day we learned that our eldest cousin, my uncle’s firstborn, passed away suddenly. A few days later my buddy Stretch called me crying because he just learned his 30 year old nephew had died. A few days later our drummer Infinito learned that his mom had died from the virus down in Bolivia. We spoke this morning, both of us crying. He’s devastated. Justifiably so.
As I type all this it seems impossible that it can all be real. Denial. I’ve been sick with various maladies for a few weeks. Saw four different doctors this week. Hard to even keep track of the different things we’re talking to the doctors about. It’s occurred to me that this physical breakdown is probably due to the impossible task of trying to mentally and emotionally integrate this bombardment of tragedy and death everywhere.
One death overshadows the one before and so on. And then you come back to that prior one. And then back to the next one and the next. An endless cycle.
What I’ve been trying to do at a minimum is stay in touch with family and friends as much as possible to communicate with and support them through this hard time. Physically I’m down for the count. I think that’s part of the process. Mentally I’m in a foggy daze. Not even aure what I feel. I know what I’m supposed to feel. But it’s too much. Too heavy.
My brother texted me earlier and just wrote “horrible times man” about all of it. There’s a part of me that wants to acknowledge that. Hard to argue with it. Another part of me wants to believe that any minute we’re going to come out of it and everything is going to be great again. And admittedly things are “great” for some people; those who haven’t been touched in any way by the virus.
Though I do believe we were all traumatized if not permanently scarred by the surreal insanity and horror of the last four years we just came out of. For many of us we weren’t around for the tragedy and chaos of the 60s or vietnam or watergate etc. These were just stories we read about years later. We didn’t fully understand the deep seated trauma those years had on society or each person individually. It really wasn’t until the last few years that we had a personal experience of it ourselves.
That kind of shock and horror. A visceral experience. The way it kept builidng, each day worse than the last, going to bed each night and waking up everyday for years terrified of what we’d hear next from the White House. The way it continued to get worse and worse and culminated in a horrific tragic and terrifying ending on January 6th.
I’d like to report that the survival of the republic as evidenced by the surreal inauguration healed all the wounds inflected. Granted it was a relief. They tried hard. They did their best. We all did. But we’ll always look back at those weeks as a swirling mess of emotions. How could we not? We had just come out of the capital riots and mass deaths were still circling our day to day lives hourly.
As valiant an attempt as the inauguration tried to be — and it had many moments, it couldn’t, and shouldn’t, dispel the shock we had and have all lived through. A part of me feels that we owe it to ourselves and to those who passed to remember. To grieve. To mourn. To contemplate. Not forever perhaps. But definitely not cut it too short.
Frankly I’m not sure I’d be able to cut it short even if I wanted to. I’m trying to do what’s right. To feel what’s right. To be respectful of the near half a million of our fellow citizens who have died this past year.
And as well to honor the anger I feel toward the pansy-assed members of the GOP who didn’t have the courage or nobility to stand up for what’s right or sacred in our democracy. I miss guys like John McCain a lot. Mitt Romney comes to mind. Thank God for him. But we need more of them. It can’t just be 5 to 10 Republicans out of tens of millions who see things straight. What’s to stop it from happening again?
I can hear friends now advising me that I’m confusing and conflating the issues. This mass explosion of death all around us with the deeply divided politics destroying us from within. But it’s hard for me not to. Both events have deeply affected us. I’ll never dismissively ignore division or coups or civil wars in other countries again, as if “it’s not my business”.
Nor will I ever again take for granted the cooperative peace and unity we enjoy in the U.S. That’s something to cherish and work on maintaining. It’s a noble goal.
In my mind i keep hearing that scene from All That Jazz play… “Death man… death man… Death is in… death is in….” If we picture the Vietnam memorial in DC, as large and foreboding as it is, we’d need ten of those to honor the fallen of just the past year. None of us are getting away from that reality unscathed. Only the coldest and most heartless among us perhaps.
Don’t get me wrong. I want to. I’m beyond overwhelmed and over it like everyone else. People are now starting to talk about the coming “roaring 20s”… I find it hard to go there still being surrounded by so many passing. It feels disrespectful.
In Tenet, people from the future are willing to destroy everyone in the past in order to save themselves in the future. Part of me feels like that’s what we’re trying to do now… Sacrificially ignoring everyone who has stacked up in the afterlife in order to move on with all of us who are “still alive”.
But that may just be part of the grieving and integration process. I get that. I think it may come down to those who have lost someone and those who haven’t. At some point we do all have to move on. If we had any hard proof of an afterlife maybe we could pick and choose… But we don’t. So the only thing we do have is our innate instinct as organic life forms to keep going, here, in life. We owe it to them I suppose. Or not. I’m torn about that theory frankly. Again, probably part of the grieving process.
I guess what it comes down to for me is this deeply rooted feeling that we need to do our absolute best to honor those who passed this past 12 months.
We didn’t do a good job of it over the last year. Due to inept leadership we ignored and denied and dishonored our dead because it wasn’t “politically convenient”. It was the greatest shared national shame I’ve ever experienced since I’ve been alive.
Luckily that’s changed. But we still have work to do. We need to acknowledge our shared loss, name them in our hearts and out loud, remember them, honor them, recognize that it’s okay that we miss them and love them and mourn for them. And then eventually, hopefully, we can all heal.